Nagin (English translation: “Female Snake”) is a 1976 Indian Hindi horror fantasy film produced and directed by Rajkumar Kohli. It features a huge ensemble cast including Sunil Dutt, Reena Roy, Jeetendra, Feroz Khan, Sanjay Khan, Vinod Mehra, Kabir Bedi, Rekha, Yogeeta Bali and Mumtaz.
It was inspired by François Truffaut’s film The Bride Wore Black, based on Cornell Woolrich‘s novel of the same name. The film was later remade in Telugu as Devathalara Deevinchandi (1977) with Jayamalini in the Nagin role. It was also remade in Tamil with Sripriya playing the Nagin role in the film Neeya.
Rajkumar Kohli re-made the film in 2002 with his son in the cast, as Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani, which fared poorly and generated negative reviews; critics blamed the poor screenplay and direction as the result of the failure.
According to a myth, when snakes are of certain age, they can assume human form. Thus, the film begins with a male and a female in their human forms, singing and dancing amorously with each other. When the male turns back into a snake, he is shot by a member of a hunting party, who thought the snake was going to attack the woman. The rest of the story deals with the female taking revenge on the group of friends responsible for her lover’s death…
“There are not a lot of songs – though “tere sang pyar” plays often, but the playback singers are the best – Lata, Asha, Mohd. Rafi and Kishore Kumar. The film though somewhat creaky by today’s standards and with special effects that look like they are from the 1920’s has a terrific cast, a couple wriggly snake dances from Reena and a terrifically silly one from Rekha (Nagin in reality) in which she does a victory dance on top of one of her victims and lots of female glamour on parade. This is simply great silly fun.” Bollywood Review
“The special effects in comparison to today´s standards are nothing, but for its time it´s well done. All the scenes where the Nagin transforms from a snake into human form and then back again are well done. The background music is pretty creepy too, especially after she kills a victim. Music in the film is pretty good too; none of the songs stay in mind, but while watching the film you can definitely sit through the songs.” Akshay Shah, Planet Bollywood
“The special effects are clumsy, homemade affairs compared to today’s CGI work, but nevertheless endearing and occasionally effective. Cobras lunging through the air, changing back and forth between man and snake, and a snake charmer that can replicate himself are just some of the effects on display. The occasional shooting of a cobra and cobra-on-cobra fighting appear to be real, needless to say it is entirely likely that several cobras were harmed during the making of Nagin.” Peter Nepstad, The Illuminated Lantern
Cast and characters:
- Reena Roy as Nagin (Female Serpent)
- Sunil Dutt as Prof. Vijay
- Feroz Khan as Raj
- Sanjay Khan as Suraj
- Jeetendra as Nag (Male Serpent)
- Vinod Mehra as Rajesh
- Kabir Bedi as Uday
- Anil Dhawan as Kiran
- Ranjeet as Good Samaritan
- Rekha as Sunita
- Mumtaz as Rajkumari
- Yogita Bali as Rita
- Prema Narayan as Woman In Forest
- Neelam Mehra as Sheela
- Sulochana Latkar as Rajesh’s Mother
- Premnath as Sapera
- Jagdeep as Hukka Bhopali Sapera Jr.
- Aruna Irani as Dancer
- Heena Kausar as Meena
- Roopesh Kumar as Meena’s Husband
- Tun Tun as Maid
- Master Bittoo as Anu
Image credits: Bollywood Review